RIO RANCHO — Antiesha Brown had a game everyone had to appreciate. Kya De Garmo had one that only she could criticize.
De Garmo controlled the offense throughout the game for top-ranked Eldorado with a 21-point, six-assist, five-steal effort, offsetting Brown’s 39-point outburst in a 78-69 win over Clovis in Thursday’s Class 5A girls state semifinal at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Eldorado (29-1) will go for its first title in 15 season in a 2:30 p.m. clash on Saturday against Sandia (27-3), which knocked off Las Cruces High 52-40 in Thursday’s first semifinal.
In addition to reaching the 5A title game, De Garmo got more good news — she found out after the game that she was named the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Oh, that’s nice,” De Garmo said. “Pretty bad game to get it, though. I had four turnovers in the first half.
“My teammates make me better than I am. They should be the Gatorade players of the year.”
De Garmo kept the Eagles’ offense running efficiently, though Clovis coach Jeff Reed thought Ashlee Pierson did a good job defending her. He noted that De Garmo scored mostly at the end as Eldorado was running away with it, and went 11-of-14 from the line.
Pierson was, however, impressed.
“She’s got a great crossover; she’s a really good ballhandler,” said Pierson, who scored 13 points for Clovis. “I have to give it to her.”
The rest of the praise, from both sides, went to Brown. The Texas Tech-bound Brown finished 16-of-21 from the floor, and scored more against the Eagles than 15 other teams have managed this season.
“The thing we always talk about is leaving it all out on the floor,” Brown said. “I gave it my all, and I can’t walk out of here with my head down.”
But except for Brown and Pierson, Clovis only had two other scorers — Amanda Romero with nine and Katharine Cordova with eight — and committing 29 turnovers kept them out of any rhythm.
“We didn’t have the intensity we needed to win,” Reed said. “I give (Eldorado) all the credit; they came with it. We came with it in spurts.”
Eldorado, a winner of 23 straight, led by as many as 16 points in the second half, and never by fewer than six in the final 15 minutes.
C.C. Rode added 18 points for the Eagles, scoring seven straight in the fourth quarter after Clovis cut the margin to 57-48 with six minutes to play.
Clovis ends at 24-5 for the second-straight season, but Reed felt it was a step forward because the Lady Wildcats were knocked out in the state quarterfinals last year.
Brown said the team did a lot of maturing.
“I was the only returning starter, so everybody learned their roles,” Brown said. “We worked hard, and everyone kept their composure.”